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3-D Chips Grow Up


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3-D chip, illustration

Expanding into the third dimension will let chipmakers continue shrinking transistors to boost speed, without leaking power.

Credit: Paul Tebbott / IEEE Spectrum

Many chip manufacturers are developing technologies designed to produce dramatic boosts in performance and power consumption. Researchers are starting to build chips in the third dimension, and many industry experts believe that this year the chip will start to become the cube.

Intel recently revealed plans for new transistors that are built into a processor known as Ivy Bridge. Intel turned the transistor channel on its side, creating a protruding fin between the source and drain that can be controlled by a gate on three sides instead of one. Building the chips into the third dimension will enable chipmakers to shrink transistors and boost speed without leaking power. Intel estimates that the 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge chips will be 37 percent faster at low voltage and draw less than half the power of 32-nanometer chips.

Another method used for improving chip performance and power consumption is stacking chips and wiring them together with vertical interconnects that run straight down the stack. This technique could result in much faster and more efficient devices. Samsung estimates that switching to vertical interconnects in dynamic random access memory chips will reduce power consumption by 50 percent, increase bandwidth by a factor of eight, and shrink memory stacks by 35 percent.

From IEEE Spectrum
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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